Butternut Squash, Apple, Leek & Ginger Soup

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Choose apples with assertive flavor for this soup. I wound up using the Honey Crisp (better known as an eating apple) and the Golden Supreme and I think they worked nicely with the fresh ginger. As always, be very careful when pureeing hot soup. In fact, let the soup cool down a bit before blending (in batches) and keep a dish towel over the lid with just a small opening to vent steam. I used my garden Serrano peppers (which are very mild) in this soup. If yours are hot, pare out the veins and seeds before chopping and use less.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced leeks (white and light green parts only, from about 3 medium leeks), well washed
kosher salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
1 to 2 small Serrano peppers, finely sliced (less if peppers are very hot)
4 cups medium-diced peeled butternut squash (about 1 pound 3 ounces, or the neck of a medium squash, peeled)
2 cups medium-diced peeled apples (about 12 ounces or 2 apples)
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
a few drops balsamic vinegar
garlic chives or chives for garnish

In a 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the leeks (with any water clinging to them) and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and stir well. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are well-softened, about 10 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the leeks are lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes more. Add the ginger, garlic, and Serranos and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the butternut squash, the apples, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and the chicken broth and stir well. (Scrape the bottom of the pan as well to bring up any flavorful browned bits.) Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, until the squash and apples are very tender, about 20 minutes. Take the pot off the heat, uncover, and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

Puree the soup in three batches (fill the jar only about half way or just a little more) and cover the blender lid partially with a folded dishtowel (leave a vent opening uncovered to let steam out) to prevent hot soup from splashing on you. Combine the batches in a mixing bowl. Taste. Add a few drops of balsamic vinegar to pick up all the flavors and stir well. Taste again. Add salt only if necessary. Return the soup to the (rinsed) soup pot and gently reheat. Serve hot, garnished with the chives.

Serves 4


- Recipe courtesy of Susie Middleton



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